Despite living in Kansas all my life, I haven’t traveled to many cities in the West so I didn’t exactly know what I was in for on my Faces & Places Tour trip to Garden City and the Beef Empire Days Rodeo.
My friend Jessica and I planned ahead by looking through our Kansas Visitors Guide. We wanted to enjoy everything about southwestern Kansas. We started with a pit stop in Great Bend for a tasty meal at Diane’s Diner and a little shopping downtown. On the road again, we enjoyed our view of beautiful wheat fields being harvested.
When we arrived in Garden City, Jessica and I received a very warm welcome from Larry, Lynn and Roxanne from the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce. Before hitting the rodeo, we all stopped and enjoyed some authentic barbecue.
As we arrived at the rodeo, I saw the big arena surrounded by horses and heard the announcer warming up. His booming voice got Jessica and I even more excited for the big event. After an hour chatting with locals who were looking forward to an annual tradition of coming to Beef Empire Days, we were ready to grab a seat on the bleachers and enjoy the show. Not only were the bull riding and barrel racing events exciting, but the entertainment was hilarious. The rodeo clown sang, made jokes and even pretended to be Troy from TV’s Swamp People (which was by far my favorite part of his act.)
After the rodeo, we had the opportunity to chat with some of the competitors and it was clear this is an event they enjoy coming to. From a former Miss Beef Empire Days to a world champion bull rider, they all told us that the Beef Empire Rodeo was the real deal and as close to an authentic Wild West rodeo as you can get.
The next day we attended the Rodeo Queen fashion show and although I’m familiar with what a rodeo queen is, I had no idea what you had to do to become one. During the fashion show, these ladies showed off their western wear and answered interview questions. But that’s not all it takes to be win the title of rodeo queen. It is also about your horsemanship as well as being outgoing and knowing your stuff.
Unfortunately, it was time to hit the road after the fashion show (and delicious lunch with mashed potatoes spiced with green chili.) As Jessica and I drove out of town, recounting everything about the weekend, we looked forward to a stop at an antique mall in Dodge City. Once back on the road, we were ready for the last few hours home, but then while passing through Larned, we saw carnival rides set up on their main street and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a look around Santa Fe Trails Days. After a bite to eat and a little shopping, we were finally on the road home.
If you’ve never been to Garden City, I would strongly recommend it. From the moment we got into town, we were welcomed with open arms and friendly faces. What struck me the most was how the locals couldn’t seem to stay away from the place they call home. Almost everyone I chatted with either moved to Garden City from another town/state, or grew up in Garden City, moved away, then came back. It’s a town that draws you in and once it has a hold of you, you will never let it go.Lindsey is graduate student at Kansas State University studying journalism and mass communications. She has lived in Manhattan for eight years but is originally from Salina. She enjoys watching K-State sports, going to the lake, attempting to learn how to cook and taking her dog on fun adventures. Some of her favorite Kansas places are Pillsbury Crossing in Manhattan, Scheme Pizza in Salina and Holyfield Winery in Basehor. She joined the 2012 Faces & Places Tour because she loves the idea of road tripping all summer to unique Kansas towns and meeting the friendly people.